Volume 4, Issue 3
  • ISSN 2352-1805
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1813
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Translanguaging is often regarded with great skepticism in the context of Deaf education, as an approach that has already been tried, with disastrous results. Already in the 1960’s educators understood the critical importance of allowing deaf children to exploit their full linguistic repertoire for learning: not only listening, lip-reading and reading/writing, but also sign language, fingerspelling, gesture, and other strategies that render language visually accessible. The resulting teaching philosophy, Total Communication (TC), quickly became the dominant approach employed in Deaf education. Yet despite its progressive stance on multilingualism and multimodality, TC ultimately failed to provide deaf students with full access to a natural language. This chapter contrasts the ineffective multilingual practices under TC with characteristically “Deaf ways” of multilingual meaning-making observed among skilled Deaf signers. Excerpts from life story interviews illustrate the impact these practices have for scaffolding learning among Deaf students newly arrived in Sweden. We conclude that prioritizing visually-oriented practices and supporting both students and teachers to become skilled signers offer the best assurance for successful translanguaging in Deaf education without engendering the problems that caused TC to fail.


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